Sunday, June 16, 2024

A Cambridge Basketball Lab exercise. (Photo: Cambridge Basketball Lab)

A great benefit of youth sports is its ability to give children and teenagers an outlet to not only play a game they enjoy, but to develop important life skills. This past summer, a youth basketball mentorship program called Cambridge Basketball Lab launched, giving youth in grades six through 12 an outlet to become better players and learn skills that will serve them well beyond the game of basketball.

Cambridge Basketball Lab is coming back for the fall, with the new session beginning Sept. 18. Workouts will take place at the Tobin School gym at 359 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Any Cambridge Public Schools student in an upper school or high school can register for free at cambridgebasketballlab.org.

With no games or scrimmages, the coed program is focused on individual skill development. Adult coach-mentors lead youth in conditioning, shooting and ball-handling drills. Because the drills are measurable, participants can track their progress and improvement. The Cambridge Basketball Lab is open to beginners with basic skills and players who are more advanced. Coach-mentors tailor workouts for participants depending on their skills. The program helps kids who are trying to learn how to dribble, but players with stronger skills participate in more challenging workouts.

“I worked on my left hand more, since I’m right-handed,” 12-year-old Nico Agran said. “I couldn’t do a lot with my left hand before it – now I’m better at dribbling, and I fixed my shot form.”

The first group of Cambridge Basketball Lab participants, from the summer. (Photo: Cambridge Basketball Lab)

Since the coaches are also mentors, they provide youth guidance that will help their overall growth. “They would ask lots of questions of the coach-mentors and really develop relationships,” said Matt Meyersohn, the founder of Cambridge Basketball Lab and an assistant coach with the Cambridge Rindge and Latin varsity boys basketball team. “The youth have a space to come and really improve as basketball players and as athletes, but they also really learn the key life skills around how to set a goal and create a plan to achieve it.”

During the summer program, 117 youth participated in 1,066 workouts. One of the participants was Treshaun Adams, who turns 14 this month. “The big effect that the Cambridge Basketball Lab had on him was it taught him how to be accountable and build confidence. The leaders over there made sure his body language was always up to par and made sure that he was not down on himself. So what they did was keep him upbeat a lot,” said Treshaun’s father, Shaun Adams.

The coach-mentors, made up of CRLS graduates and current members of the boys and girls coaching staffs, are not the only people who guide the youth in the program: Eight students at CRLS – four boys and four girls – serve on a youth advisory board, helping design the workouts and drills and spreading word among their peers. They also created the logo.

“It was very fulfilling for me to watch kids have a place to go, work out, make new friends and learn life skills,” said Ruhamah Henok, a 16-year-old youth mentor. “I saw many kids learn how to be resilient. Even if the workout was challenging, they were able to keep going and encouraged other kids to keep going.”

Jaydaan Correia, a 15-year-old youth mentor, saw the same lessons imparted: “You can’t just stop because things get hard. If you hit a shooting slump, you just have to keep going, keep pushing. People who have resilience tend to do pretty well in life.”


This post was updated Sept. 14, 2023, to correct that that the name of the organization is the Cambridge Basketball Lab.